Archive for September, 2011

30
Sep
11

The Curiosity of San Francisco Stairs

I have for  years driven through San Francisco, admiring the consistent urban fabric and wondering about the nature of the architecture behind the streetwall created by the zero setback party wall buildings.  I am working on a dental office in the second building from the right in this photo.  I expect it is over a hundred years old.

A fire on the upper floors and the subsequent water damage means that the wall finishes had to be removed and reinstalled. When I arrived for a site visit a few days ago the doors were open and I got to fulfill one of my longtime wishes of peeking behind the streetwall.  This is a three story building with one individual apartment on each of the upper two floors.  Above are the separate entries and stairs to each floor.

This stair has 31 steps all the way to the third floor.  Don’t lose your footing coming down! Today we are limited to twelve vertical feet between landings.  This one has about sixteen feet.  Good aerobics going up!

This is the nice little turn the stair takes at the top to bring you to an entry hall.  That topmost balluster has some serious beef to it.

Here is the payoff view, courtesy of a big hole in the wall.  They ran two completely separate stairs from the street level vestibule up to each apartment.  It would have been more efficient to run one stair up to a landing at the second floor, have a keyed front door to that apartment and then continue up the stair to the third floor.  Hmmm,  why?  My friend, Stephanie, suggested that maybe this made each apartment feel more like your own home by having a nice front door actually open onto the street.  A good reason perhaps and a question to be carried along to further explorations.

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